Springwood Park
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The Springwood Settlement.

I had walked the Springwood Park fields for 35 years when Roger Elliot, the farmer there, invested in a metal detector. When he tried it out on the KIng's Haugh which is literally at his back door, he produced five Roman coins in a very short time, three 1st & 2nd century and two 3rd and 4th century. He lent me a detector 'to try' and within an hour and a half, I had found another thirty-three. This was fun.

I spent a lot of time detecting on Springwood that year and with help from other detectorists, handed two hundred and fifty-eight Roman coins in to the National Museum. These were found in four different sites which were mapped and the maps given to the Museum for their records.

About ninety per cent of the coins came from an elongated rectangle about 250m by 40m which ran along the side of the Roman road after the river crossing. Six denarii and fourteen bronzes from the 1st & 2nd century were found near the river - this was what would be expected from a Roman site. However the next 200m by 40m produced a large number of 3rd & 4th century bronze coins, some VF and F but most badly worn, some tiny and unidentifiable but all recognisably Roman.
Divining rods told me that this rounded-corner rectangle was enclosed with a wall? about 2m thick and a quick dig down showed that it was held by a woven wattle below the plough-disturbed soil. So far, so good - but not enough to convince the sceptics of whom there are many. So it was great to find that one of Richard Strathie's APs showed the same shape as my rectangle and a Bing map showed the same shape in better detail.

As to the recognisable coins, there are three bulges in the list which I have - 48 from the Gallic Empire with a further 8 from unofficial mints; 72 from the Constantine family, 49 from the house of Valentinian and 6 from Arcadius. To my mind, these are the small change of commerce - not booty, not bribery, not modern losses nor a collector's rejects.
When comparing the later Roman coins from the settlement beside Merchidun (now Roxburgh Castle) with those excavated at Traprain, the mint patterns and types are almost identical, but ten times more numerous.

It is my conviction that there was a currency economy operating in Southern Scotland long after the legions left. Detecting finds in the Borders go a long way to proving this.

It is tempting to think that the number of minimmii found at Yetholm three years ago and the two coin moulds from near Trimontium were attempts by the people of the area to continue a currency economy after the original Roman coins had been worn down to blank discs.

1st August 2015.                                                                                                    Walter Elliot



Bing Maps : Springwood Park


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Roxburgh

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Springwood Park.gpx
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Border Archaeology,
5 May 2016, 06:01